Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Decemberists - The Crane Wife

With Picaresque - and the great show they put on at Webster Hall - I quickly fell in love with The Decemberists last year, especially their quirky charm and Colin Meloy's Mellvillian lyrics, from The Mariner's Revenge Song, an eight-minute-plus seafaring tale of long-unrequited vengence taken inside the belly of a whale, to The Engine Driver, an R.E.M.-esque song of a railroad worker who writes novels to rid himself of painful memories of an ex-lover. And Angels and Angles, a soft love song that closes out the album, and The Sporting Life, a perfect song for dosado-ing. In other words, a great mix of moving, fantastic storytelling and lighthearted fun.

I knew that it was The Decemberists' masterpiece.

So The Crane Wife, their first major-label release, was bound to disappoint. It just was a matter of how much.

Happily, it's not too much. The Crane Wife is not Picaresque - the playful songs aren't as playful and the epic tales aren't as compelling. And the music is far more bizarre - The Island begins like vintage Band On The Run-era Paul McCartney before turning into a Leprechauns-on-acid Irish jig. But it's an awesome song, and there is plenty more to like here. The Shankill Butchers is already an essential on my personal Halloween soundtrack, and Yankee Bayonet and The Crane Wife 3 also help make up a strong collection of folk songs, although Sons & Daughters, after starting strong, becomes repetitive and a bit annoying. The highlight of the album (besides the Meloy/Laura Veirs duet on Yankee) is O Valencia!, a Romeo and Juliet-inspired tale of warring families and forbidden love, which has the album's best hook. Released: October 3, 2006. MELOYDIOUS.

A classic:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Mariner's Revenge Song is a song that only his mother could love. Except that it implicates his mother rather darkly. Ok, I have proven it - worst whale-related song of all time.

This is Liz.